If you want to expand your literary horizons, take a look at a list of the best Egyptian authors and writers of all time.
Egypt’s powerful culture goes back thousands of years. There are numerous writers throughout the Arabic world, including Cairo and Alexandria, who has produced a wide variety of short stories, novels, and works of fiction that have had a tremendous impact on literature to this day.
A few authors from around the Nile have left their mark on the world of literature. Take a look at a few of the top Egyptian authors you need to know.
1. Ahdaf Soueif, Born 1950
Ahdaf Soueif is one of the most popular Modern Egyptian writers. A prolific novelist and political campaigner, Soueif has become a force as an author and an activist. She was one of the leaders of the Arab Spring protests, which led to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. Before this, she was a critically acclaimed novelist. Her most famous work is titled The Map of Love.
In addition to her work on this novel, she wrote extensively on the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which has been going on for thousands of years. She continues to write beautifully to this day. If you would like to explore her work for yourself, you should check out The Map of Love. You might be interested in exploring other cultures across the globe, such as these incredible best Nigerian authors.
2. Nawal El Saadawi, Born 1931
Nawal El Saadwi is a popular female writer from Egypt. During the course of her prolific career, she has written on a variety of topics. She is also a physician, psychiatrist, and activist. She is one of the most powerful leaders who advocate for the rights of women not only in Egypt but also throughout the Arab world.
Many of her books focus on the subject of women, with two of her most popular works being Memoirs from the Women’s Prison and The Fall of the Imam. If you would like to read Saadawi’s works for yourself, take a look at The Fall of the Imam.
3. Yusuf Indris, 1927 – 1991
Yusuf Idris is one of the most popular Egyptian writers of all time. During the course of his prolific career, he wrote novels, plays, and even a short story or two. Similar to numerous other Egyptian authors, he did not train to be a writer when he was younger. Instead, he actually trained to be a doctor during his time at the University of Cairo. Eventually, he decided that his life would be better served in the world of literature.
Even though he has a number of marquee works, his most popular work is titled Al-Farafeer. This is a play that focuses on two characters who are completely different from each other. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature several times, and he won an award named after another Egyptian author, the Naguib Mahfouz medal, for his book titled City of Love and Ashes. Check out City of Love and Ashes.
4. Alaa Al Aswany, Born 1957
Alaa Al Aswany is a prolific Egyptian writer. Originally from Cairo, he is the founding member of a political movement called Kefaya. Through his work and ideas, he speaks to drive changes that take place in Egypt for the benefit of everyone who lives there, including middle-class families.
Two of his most popular works include Chicago and The Yacoubian Building. His work is well-respected for his powerful use of imagery. You can take a look at the work of Al Aswany for yourself by picking up a copy of The Yacoubian Building.
5. Miral Al-Tahawy, Born 1968
Miral Al-Tahawny is a popular novelist and short-story writer from Egypt. Even though she comes from a conservative background, many of her ideas are revolutionary. Her unique thoughts are reflected in her powerful works, and she is widely seen as a pioneer in the world of Arabic literature.
She is also a recipient of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. Some of her most popular works include The Tent, Blue Aubergine, and Brooklyn Heights, which takes place in New York. If you want to explore her work for yourself, you can find Brooklyn Heights.
6. Salwa Bakr, Born 1949
Salwa Bakr is an Egyptian novelist, critic, and activist. She was born in Cairo in 1949 to a father who was a railway worker. She went on to study business at Ain Shams University, graduating in 1972. While she thought about going into the business world, she decided that her talents would be better served as a writer.
She has quickly become one of the most popular Egyptian writers of all time, with some of her most popular books including the man from Bashmour and The Golden Chariot. If you want to read her work, you can check out The Golden Chariot.
7. Taha Hussein, 1889 – 1973
Taha Hussein is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He has also been called the Dean of Arabic literature. In many ways, he led a Renaissance movement in Arabic literature, and his work contributed to the modernist movement of the entire genre.
Growing up, he studied literature at Al-Azhar University. Of note, he also spent most of his life living without sight. This took place when he had an ocular procedure performed by someone without proper training. Despite this, he is still one of the most well-respected Egyptian writers of all time. One of his most popular works is called The Call of the Curlew. You can take a look at The Call of the Curlew.
8. Tawfiq Al-Hakim, 1898 – 1987
Tawfiq Al-Hakim is an Egyptian writer who is originally from Alexandria. He is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of modern Arabic literature, and his work continues to be studied to this day. He is also widely considered to be the father of Arabic theater. In 1956, he published a play called Death Song that positioned him among the greats in the Arabic World. Some of his other popular works include Leaving Paradise, The People of the Cave, and A Bullet in the Heart.
9. Naguib Mahfouz, 1911 – 2006
Naguib Mahfouz is one of the top Egyptian writers of the 20th century. He also won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988. He is a writer with a career that has spanned more than 70 years. He has written several plays, hundreds of short stories, and dozens of novels. During the latter part of his career, he also wrote scripts for movies.
Many of his works have had a tremendous impact on Islamic and Egyptian literary culture. Therefore, many of his books have been made into films that have been broadcast overseas. Some of his most popular works include the Cairo Trilogy, Love In The Rain, Heart of the Night, and Cairo Modern. If you would like to explore his works for yourself, you may want to take a look at the Cairo Trilogy. If you enjoyed our round-up of the best Chilean authors, we have many more articles on the best authors from around the globe. Why not check out our list of the best Turkish authors?